One Night Stand: St Helens pumped after festival but some punters felt left out in the cold


Posted

September 03, 2018 13:13:37

Businesses in and around St Helens are expecting a million-dollar boost after catering to the largest-ever triple j One Night Stand, but some punters claim the music event was under-resourced.

More than 20,000 people flooded the east coast Tasmanian town to witness the free, all-ages concert, filling hotel rooms, Airbnb properties and camping grounds and keeping cafes open into the early hours of Sunday morning.

At St Helens Bakery, Jamie Rawlinson measured the economic impact in hot chips.

“I think we’ve gone through about 40 boxes of 15 kilo chips — that was just [Saturday] night,” she said.

The bakery stayed open until after 1:00am to feed hungry concert-goers.

“Especially this time of year, we’re pretty quiet, waiting for summer — so yeah, it was awesome to have this come in.”

Cafe owner Marika McGuinness said she sold more than 1,000 coffees over the weekend.

“I haven’t even had a chance to look, I’m just pressing buttons and handing out coffees,” she laughed.

“We have a really busy summer period, but this has just trumped it.”

East Coast Tourism CEO Ruth Dowty said the outcome for local businesses was “spectacular”.

“I think they probably got what is their annual visitation in a 24-hour period — it was just great to see,” she said.

‘We’re still doing the numbers’

Peter Paulson from the St Helens and District Chamber of Commerce said it would take some time to determine how much concert-goers spent over the weekend.

He said previous One Night Stands had generated economic activity worth about $1.2 million, but factors like the higher crowd numbers at the St Helens event could affect the final figure.

“And the fact that places like Geraldton and Mt Isa are certainly quite isolated communities when you analyse them,” he said.

“St Helens isn’t that hard to get to and isn’t so hard to leave, so in that context we’re still doing our numbers to find out what the final figures will be.”

Mr Paulson expected the community would come together to discuss the highs and lows of the bumper weekend in coming weeks.

Break O’Day Mayor Mick Tucker said the One Night Stand had proven St Helens could handle big events with aplomb.

“I think, to be quite honest, businesses are over the moon. The economic benefits of this are absolutely going to go on for some time,” he said

Annual event for St Helens?

Mr Paulson said the reaction to the One Night Stand had been so positive the community was now mulling a repeat performance by staging their own concert in the future.

“There’s been a real buzz around the town about wanting to do something like this in the future, so that’ll be part of our ongoing discussions now, looking to next year,” he said.

“Now we know people are prepared to come to St Helens during the quieter periods, we’d love to capture them and get them back here again and really keep them entertained as an annual event.”

Ruth Dowty said the event provided unparalleled national exposure for Tasmania’s east coast.

“I think that all the people that were there will go back and tell the stories of how warm and welcoming the place was and how beautiful it was, and that will encourage people to visit as well,” she said.

“So it’s one of those things that’s going to have compounding benefits.”

Huge demand sees services struggle

While the experience was good for those behind the till and the festival drew praise, the event drew criticism for being under-resourced.

Patrons complained of spending up to two-and-a-half hours lined up for toilets or food stands, with the queues reaching 300 metres and causing some to miss as many as three acts.

Afterwards the traffic played havoc with the shuttle bus service, with some people lighting roadside fires to stay warm as the temperature dropped to two degrees Celsius.

“Didn’t know what a bigger stitch up was, waiting 3hr for a sausage or 3hr wait on the after party bus,” Dusty Rankin posted to Facebook.

“There’s a whole bunch of people waiting for a bus! Come pick us up, right on corner where 2 fires are!!” wrote Emma Mossisby.

Mark Cutler and his family waited for their bus for around three hours before giving up and walking into St Helens.

He said his young son began “shaking and shivering” as a result of being in the cold for so long.

“In three degrees, and being left for three hours waiting for a bus to go back to our campground [our son] started suffering from exposure and we had to take him to hospital,” he said.

He said this experience “soured” an otherwise “wonderful and terrific event”.

Despite reports that buses never showed up, the director of the bus company said all buses were running.

Director of Calow Coaches Darren Calow said traffic volume made it impossible to stick to the timetable.

“People have been saying it’s only a half hour to Pyengana, which on a normal day it probably is … but we were taking that time just to get around the corner, to get a couple of hundred metres,” he said.

Kristine McKay and her husband flew into Hobart from Melbourne and hired a motorhome, which they drove up to St Helens on Friday.

After wandering around St Helens, the couple headed to the gate of the festival at around 3:30pm but said the queue was “extraordinary”.

Unaware they could miss out on entry, they decided to head back to St Helens and “wait out the line”.

Two hours later they returned to discover the gates were closed.

St Helens was to be Ms McKay’s first One Night Stand and after this experience it could be her last.

“I won’t be doing another One Night Stand unless it’s only a few hours from where I live,” she said.

“There’s just no way I would make a big trek for that, just because you can’t guarantee you’d get in.”

Despite missing out, she doesn’t believe the event should be ticketed.

“If it’s either free or very low cost, people would reserve tickets and not show up and more people would miss out.”

‘The tunes got us through’

Not everyone who experienced the queues was upset by them.

Concert-goer Mia Hextal described the queues for toilets and food as “ridiculous” but said the music made up for it.

Kaylar Jordan and Damon Macrow were unperturbed by spending hours in a traffic jam after the concert.

“We left at ten and didn’t get back to the shack until 12, so it was a bit of a wait, but we had music going, so the tunes got us through,” they said.

Volunteers who directed patrons to toilets and manned food stalls said concert-goers seemed to be in good humour despite the long queues.

“The main question for the day was, ‘Where’s the toilet?’ and it got to the stage where I just stood there and went, ‘Toilet!’ and they’d go, ‘Oh, how did you know?'” said Dina McGuinness.

“But they were so wonderful, they actually made our night because they were so excited.”

Another volunteer Michael Wright said there was no shortage of food at the stalls but confirmed they were busy.

“Very hectic, we were just flat out, right through to half past ten, yeah, every food stall was just flat out,” he said.

Topics:

arts-and-entertainment,

community-and-society,

st-helens-7216,

tas



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